Politics

Peter Dutton Ignored His Own Department’s Advice When He Granted An Au Pair Visa In 2015

Here's the go with the au pairs.

peter dutton

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If you’re wondering what the go is with Peter Dutton and the au pairs, here’s an update: it turns out Dutton actually went against the advice of a senior Border Force official when he stepped in to prevent an au pair from being deported in 2015.

See, back in 2015, 27-year-old Alexandra Deuwel was barred from entering Australia on a tourist visa after telling Border Force officials she intended to work, which you’re not allowed to do on a tourist visa. Specifically, she intended to mind children and do household chores for a family in Adelaide, in exchange for free accommodation.

That family were relatives of AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, whose office emailed Peter Dutton’s chief of staff to see if anything could be done to prevent Deuwel from being deported in a matter of hours. Dutton did ultimately end up intervening, using his ministerial powers to step in and grant Deuwel a three month visa.

The emails leaked today to Labor senator Kimberley Kitching reveal, however, that Dutton did this against his own department’s advice. The emails show that Clive Murray, the Assistant Commissioner of the Strategic Border Command, told Dutton’s office that there was “detail which does not support the Minister intervening”. That detail included the fact that Deuwel had been “previously counselled” earlier in 2015 about the fact that she absolutely could not do any kind of work, including voluntary, on a tourist visa.

Murray also pointed out that “there may be some financial liability to the Dept if the removal does not proceed” as the airline would no longer have to pay the removal costs in that case.

In short, senior officials from Dutton’s own department gave advice saying it was not a good idea for him to step in and grant this particular au pair a free pass, because (a) she’d previously been told she wasn’t allowed to work, even voluntarily, but was still trying to, and (b) intervening would probably cost the government money. And yet Dutton still signed the documents and granted Deuwel a three month tourist visa, saying it was in the “interests of Australia as a humane and generous society”.

You know what would actually be in the interests of Australia as a humane and generous society? Getting all those asylum seekers off Nauru and to safety here. Unfortunately, Dutton did not choose to intervene in their cases while he had the power to. Instead, his department actually went to court multiple times to actively oppose the urgent medical transfer of sick kids to Australia.

Dutton still maintains that he did nothing wrong — he told reporters on Tuesday that he has always followed the correct “administrative process”, and that “I consider cases on their merits. Any suggestions cases are determined on any other basis, including whether I knew the individual who referred the matter, is completely ridiculous.”

Anyway, that’s the go with one of the au pairs. Really makes you think.